NASHVILLE, Tenn. - NewsChannel5 Investigates confronted Tennessee Highway Patrol Colonel Mike Walker about a controversial memo and whether troopers target drivers with expensive tickets just to make a quota.
Maggie Duncan with the Tennessee Police Chiefs Association, of which the THP is a member, said putting such a policy to paper is unheard of.
"It's extremely bad policy and it's unprofessional," said Duncan.
Attorney Fletcher Long said this THP memo proved otherwise.
"They've always maintained they don't have a quota," said Long. "It's appalling - absolutely appalling."
Long had argued in court on behalf of clients that ticket quotas do exist, but could not prove it. He believed this memo will give them what he needs to challenge traffic tickets on grounds they were written only to meet a quota.
"They are only supposed to pull motorists over who violate the law - not the motorist they have to have because it's the end of the shift and they haven't met their 600 monthly tickets yet," said Long.
THP Col. Mike Walker said troopers do not write tickets to satisfy a quota in response to Sgt. Babit's memo.
"We don't have quotas. We don't assign numbers to troopers," said Walker. "That's a Sergeant trying to put something down for the troopers that he's going to look at."
Walker objected to the memo, but said it was not evidence of a secret quota system in the THP.
He said Babit, who remains on the job, acted alone.
"I don't know why he did it. I couldn't explain it - you'd have to ask him," said Walker.
Babit declined to talk on camera. By phone he admitted to writing the memo and said: "I only did what I was told. I sent what I wrote up the chain of command for approval. They did and told me to distribute it."
Col. Walker disputed Babit's comment.
"This came from him. It did not come from the district captain or anybody above that level," said Walker.
In 2001 Robertson County ranked 4th in the state with 15,673 tickets written and by 2007 - that rank had slipped to 17th with fewer than half that total, a big drop in traffic ticket revenues.
In the past, state lawmakers have considered legislation to make ticket quotas illegal. It's possible the issue will come up again next session.